“The knife fell, and then the guy fell.” [Parker: The Score]

January 12th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

Chris Ryall revealed the first preview for Darwyn Cooke’s 2012 adaptation of Richard Starker’s The Score the other day. As expected, it’s a great image, well in line with the other novels Cooke has done thus far. The Score is a good novel. Not my favorite–if I had to rank them, it’d probably go 1) The Hunter 2) The Outfit and 3) Butcher’s Moon–but it definitely rates. The hook alone makes it worth reading, really. “Parker gets a posse up and robs an entire town. And then things start exploding.

This is a book with lots of Alan Grofield, too. Grofield is easily the best supporting character in these novels. He’s a thespian slash thief, and each of his interests informs the other. He pulls heists to keep his theater going, and he tends to think of his jobs as being excerpts from exciting films. He’s suave, but he’s all about his business. He’s not unlike Lupin III or Gambit in certain ways, to be honest, which is probably part of the attraction. He really enjoys acting and stealing, and that makes him an incredibly enjoyable character to read. There’s this great bit in Butcher’s Moon where he takes up with this librarian who thinks she’s too big for the town she’s in that’s just wonderful, a sublime mix of Grofield being able to spot a type, adjust to that type, and then lose interest as soon as he gets focused on the actual job at hand. He’s a romantic, but he knows how and when to turn it off.

Here’s a couple of bits from that chapter in Butcher’s Moon:

“Very nice library you have here,” Grofield said.

The girl walking through the stacks ahead of him turned her head to twinkle over her shoulder in his direction. “Well, thank you,” she said, as though he’d told her she had good legs, which she had.

They went through a section of reading tables, all unoccupied. “You don’t seem to get much of a business,” he said. She gave a dramatic sigh and an elaborate shrug. “I suppose it’s all you can expect from a town like this,” she said.

Oh ho, thought Grofield, one of those. Self-image: a rose growing on a dungheap. A rose worth plucking? “What other attractions are there in a town like this?” he asked.

“Hardly anything. Here we are.” A small alcove held a battered microfilm reader on a table, with a wooden chair in front of it. Smiling at it, Grofield said, “Elegant. Very nice.”

She smiled broadly in appreciation, and he knew she knew they were artistic soulmates. “You should see the room with the LPs,” she said.

“Should I?”

“It’s ghastly.”

He looked at her, unsure for just a second, but her expression told him she hadn’t after all been suggesting a quiet corner in which they could bump about together. The idea, in fact, hadn’t occurred to her; she was really a very simple straightforward girl, appropriate to the town and the library.

The girl was on the lookout for him, and came tripping out from behind the main desk as he was going by. She gave violent hand signals to attract his attention, and when he stopped she hurried over and whispered, “It turns out I’m free tonight after all.”

She’d broken her date; headache, no doubt. Feeling vaguely sorry for the young man, and both irritated and guilty toward the girl, Grofield said, “That’s wonderful.”

It was Tucker who got me to finally pick up Butcher’s Moon. I read something like thirteen Parker novels in a shot a couple years ago, so I’d been on a bit of a break, but his review got me back on the horse. I had no idea that Slayground got a sequel, and I love that book. It was my #3 before I read Butcher’s Moon.

University of Chicago Press is continuing their Richard Stark reprint series with three Grofield novels in April. In order: The Damsel, The Dame, and The Blackbird. I’m looking forward to reading them.

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Best of 2010: From My Two Favorite Genres

January 4th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

Acme Novelty Library 20, Afrodisiac, American Vampire, It Was the War of the Trenches, King City, Parker: The Outfit, Pluto, Thunderbolts, Twin Spica, Vagabond 9

jacques tardi – it was the war of the trenches

I’ve liked war comics since I was a kid. My uncle had some Sgt Rocks that I tore through, sometimes literally, and I thought the action was really great. I liked normal people doing things, and being in a military family, it was cool. Not enough about the USAF, I figure, but good enough. Garth Ennis adjusted my view of war comics years later, by focusing on the people, rather than the action.

It Was The War of the Trenches works in that same lane of emotion over action. Tardi delivers several short anecdotes about World War I, with large panels and clean rendering. He’s not doing anything particularly flashy, but he is creating an effective and believable world.

The characters in the book are transient and almost anonymous, with only their names and locations separating them. We get a brief moment to get to know them before being subjected to the horror or inanity of war. Men die screaming for days upon days, others are shot for having human reactions, and still others let themselves become monsters. We don’t see the Germans all that often, but when they do appear, they’re just as normal as the French.

That anonymity works in the book’s favor, particularly in terms of delivering the book’s point about war. You’re left feeling like you just read about the same person experiencing several different events, trapped in a hell not of his own making. It Was the War of the Trenches isn’t as mean as something like Kyle Baker’s Special Forces, which just laid on the sarcasm so thick you can read it as being played perfectly straight. It is, though, a mean book, one with no patience for the ideas of glory in war, a just war, or any war, period. Nobility? Honor? Patriotism? It’s all a joke, and the punchline is dying while trying to hold your own guts in, weeping quietly and asking for your maman.

Tardi depicts war as a faceless meat grinder, one that destroys you and your loved ones regardless of how they feel and who they are. There’s very little in the book that tops the scene where a man who is clearly a vet is battered by a crowd who is angered by his talk of peace. It’s that sort of thing, that willingness to stand behind nationalism and send your boys off to war, that Tardi opens up and dissects. No one’s happy to be in this war. They’re tired, filthy, and sick of dying. And in the end, who wins the war doesn’t matter, because everyone who fought it is dead.

darwyn cooke – parker: the outfit

I bought The Outfit the day before New York Comic-Con. I’d intended to read it on the plane, but things didn’t work out. Instead, I read a third of it sitting on the convention floor, the final third elsewhere, and the middle third during one of Marvel’s panels. I’d finished copying down whatever scant news they’d generated and gotten the post ready to go by about halfway through the panel. Corporate panels are mostly boring, though, especially the Q&A parts, so I figured I’d wrap up a book that I was enjoying.

I think I hit the part in the middle, Book Three, while Peter David was talking about some comic I don’t read. And everything tuned out after that, because I was hooked. This is how comics should work. They can take something very simple, like two men robbing a night club or the life of a crime boss, and turn it into something incredible. It doesn’t have to be something with gutters or melodramatic dialogue. The art doesn’t have to stay the same throughout, as long as the shift makes sense thematically.

Cooke shifts styles several times in Book Three. Structured mostly under the concept of “The Lowdown,” a weekly crime mag, Cooke details several heists and they each get their own style. One’s a novel excerpt (positioned as a true crime story) with spot illos. Another looks like a those goofy cartoons where everyone’s face is always facing the camera and grotesque. Styles upon styles upon styles is what he has.

The contrast between what I was reading and the announcements I’d just written down for Marvel were striking. The Outfit is based on a novel that’s over forty years old, but it was full of old ideas made fresh and clean. The experimentation in format took those ideas and fired them at your face, rocketing off the pages at escape velocity. Mean, vicious, and undeniable.

The Outfit isn’t a graphic novel. It’s not even just a good story, another solid graphic novel from a guy who already has more quality under his belt than most people get. It’s a classroom. It’s a lesson in storytelling, in how to put together a comic, and how far you can stretch the formula before it isn’t a comic any more.

Here’s the answer: it will always be a comic. Comics can do anything. All you have to do is stretch.

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The Cipher 12/22/10

December 22nd, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Sittin’ in the mornin’ sun, I’ll be sittin’ when the evenin’ come
created: Oh yes, we’re still going strong with this Digital December ish on CA.

DC Comics! IDW launching something new! Marvel Comics and their vault! I also contributed #s 7 and 4 to the Best of the Year over there. King City and The Outfit, of course. Who loves you, baby?

-Anyone notice which question almost everyone skipped? Pay attention. There will be a quiz, and after the quiz comes beatings.

-Over at TFO’s Best Music countdown, I chipped in number 14 (Gorillaz, “Stylo”), definitely one of my favorites this year. I’ve got another song coming and I’m really happy with how that review turned out, plus a bigger piece that I’m collabing with somebody on. Yes.

Watching the ships roll in
consumed: I’m about to consume a bunch of burgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, and steaks, but I gotta cook them first, right? So pardon if these are short. I’ve got 4th of July BBQ for Christmas Eve Eve Eve to get to.

-Warren Ellis’s Supergod: Sucks, manages to combine several of Ellis’s worst tics into one terrible, poorly paced, and clunky story.

-I played some more Persona 4. I’m back burnering it for a couple months, though, since I think I’m close to the end.

Boardwalk Empire is good!

-Newsarama’s poll probably should’ve been better thought out.

-Paul Cornell and Gail Simone have both done some pretty net-pleasing things lately. Using “mansplaining” like that’s a word people should say out loud, getting revenge for Ryan Choi. Ehhh. I’m not down with all the pandering. Just do good stories, that’ll please us plenty. Those of us that aren’t insane, anyway. Cheap pop is just that, so don’t be that guy.

-I listened to a lot of Dungeon Family apparently.

-New music and books are on pause while I work this Digital December thing, not counting new Rock Band songs for extracurricular activities. Plus, next week, Amazon should have some crazy music deals for me to indulge in, so I don’t need to be buying new stuff anyway.

-With that said, I bought the new Ghostface for five bucks and reread Darwyn Cooke’s The Outfit and Graham’s King City (three or four times on that last one, actually).

-Marty’s review of Gil Scott-Heron’s new album is great.

-Spurgeon has interviewed Matt Seneca and Joe Casey. These are always worth a read.

-Dirk Deppey has been laid off from TCJ, and he was kind enough to mention us in his outgoing post. I really do appreciate that, because when I was first getting into blogging, it was Dirk and Tom and Graeme and Heidi who I learned the most from. Curious to see what he does after taking a couple weeks off.

-These burgers ain’t gonna grill themselves, so let me see what I can do to wrap this up real quick…

-[Generic dismissive thought about Marvel’s upcoming Fear Itself event]

-[Clarification that I love Stuart Immonen and that I hope it makes him eleventy million bucks]

-[But on the real, you’re sick if you think I’m buying a seven part event at four bones a pop]


And then I watch ’em roll away again, yeah
David: Batman, Inc. 2, Hellblazer 274
Esther: Batman/Superman #79, Batman Incorporated #2 Possible: Batman Annual #28, Green Lantern: Larfleeze Christmas Special
Gavin: Azrael 15, Batman Incorporated 2, Green Lantern Corps 55, Green Lantern Larfleeze Christmas Special 1, Justice League Generation Lost 16, Chaos War Dead Avengers 2, Deadpool 30, Deadpool Pulp 4, Incredible Hulks 619, Namor First Mutant 5, Punisher In Blood 2, Secret Avengers 8, What If Dark Reign, Incorruptible 13

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The Cipher 10/06/10

October 6th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

they believed in machine guns.
New York Comic Con is this weekend. Gavin and I will be there. Short cipher, then.

-Charlie Huston has a new novel coming out in 2012 from Mulholland Books. Skinner is going to be about poverty, seems like. Here’s a pretty good introduction to the headspace he’s working in.

Speaking of putting a bullet in the head of irony, 1 in 5 U.S. resident children are currently living below that line.

You can’t, as the comedians are wont to say, make this shit up.

Facts, in these situation, kick the shit out of fiction every fucking time.

The present moment is born of the past. The future moment is born also of the past, and the now.

1 in 5 children born from the past into present poverty. How the fuck did that happen?

If you want to get into his work, The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death: A Novel is a pretty good starting point. Brutally funny, brutal pacing (in The Shotgun Rule especially), brutal violence… this guy is the one novelist whose books I buy on release and tear through in two or three sittings, max.

-Continuing the trend of the extended FBB4l! family being the best people to read when it comes to writing about comics, Tucker Stone has a positively fantastic interview with Darwyn Cooke up at Comics Alliance. Parker: The Outfit drops today, and it’s basically already book of the week.

-More Richard Stark: The Hunter, The Man with the Getaway Face, and The Outfit are on Kindle now.

David Grofield: Unknown Soldier 24, Parker: The Outfit
Esther Parker:
Handy Gavin: Incorruptible 10, Metalocalypse Dethklok 1, Secret Six 26, Avengers Academy 5, Chaos War 1, Deadpool Pulp 2, DeadpoolMAX 1, Hawkeye & Mockingbird 5, S.H.I.E.L.D. 4, Taskmaster 2, Ultimate Comics Thor 1, Young Allies 5

I was gonna buy Ultimate Thor off ComiXology, but if you think I’m paying four bucks for a regular old comic book, you’re insane.

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The Perverted Needs of Forty-Five Year Old Men

September 12th, 2010 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

I won’t pretend that anyone on this blog hasn’t read David’s post on Darwyn Cooke’s remarks about what it would take for him to jump back into mainstream comics.  The first sentence out of his mouth is this:

“I want them to stop catering to the perverted needs of forty-five year old men.”

He elaborates, citing the sex, violence, and general unwholesome behavior seen in mainstream comics continuity.  There are ninety-seven comments on the post, each with their take on how Mister Cooke’s words can be taken.  I think he expressed himself clearly and concisely, but I’m still not sure if I agree with him.

I don’t think I have any problem with people catering to the needs, perverted or not, of forty-five year old men.  In fact, I think some of the problem with comics is the fact that the big companies still cling to the notion that they don’t sell sex.  Through the nineties and the early two thousands we saw Wonder Woman’s costume creep up her butt cheeks until they were hanging out like Christmas ornaments with a ribbon between them, and why?  Because there was mainstream respectability to be maintained.  Evil Mary Marvel was the Woman of a Thousand Strategic Shadows for while, because DC comics doesn’t do porn.  Meanwhile Shield agents at Marvel are wandering around nude and painted blue, because if you have Victoria Hand and Maria Hill and Steve Rogers, you’re not going to waste them, but Marvel characters also don’t appear in porn.

In many ways, this seems like the worst of two worlds.  Mainstream continuity and art are hijacked by the need to make things as violent, suggestive, and sexually explicit as possible.  Meanwhile, those sexually explicit stories are constrained due to a need for the One Established Character not to push certain boundaries.  The result is a comic that seems to be walking an unpleasant line.  They put in as much as they can to serve those with, ah, less than literary needs, without alienating other fans.  Meanwhile they scale down as much of the sex and violence as they can without alienating the loyal pervs who make Rule 34 so well represented in comics.  It’s a stripper with pasties, a nude scene with a bad body double – it seems to satisfy no one.

Sometimes I wish that comics would finally take the plunge that they hint at with so many hardcore alternate universe versions of characters.  If there’s so much money in satisfying the perverted needs of forty-five year old men (and for that matter, forty-five year old women, and eighteen year old boys and teenage girls who would undoubtedly read about a teenage Batman who sparkles) then maybe it’s time to do it.  There isn’t any doubt that it would be lucrative, and taking away the constraints of the continuity and the increasingly nebulous age ratings system might give those artists who want to pursue a more violent, sexual, or obscenity-laden direction the freedom to write really good stories.  Meanwhile regular continuity can stop trying to split the difference between hardcore and all-ages stories. 

I realize that this won’t happen.  Big companies, owned by bigger companies, have images of these icons to maintain, and pornography, extreme violence, and obscenity don’t fit those images.  It may even be wrong-headed.  Movies have ratings for extreme violence, but that doesn’t mean that the violence level that’s considered appropriate for younger kids isn’t being pushed.  And it’s not like the availability of porn has meant that movies and books are more likely to showcase serious artistic endeavors.  At the same time, this system seems to be satisfying nobody.  Maybe it’s time for a change.

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Is it time to leave the past behind?

September 3rd, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Brian Michael Bendis has been writing Avengers-related books since 2004. Across three series, six years, and something like 100 issues, Bendis has been the main architect for the non-X-Men part of the Marvel Universe. A stray thought flickered across my brain earlier tonight and it kind of bothered me. I’ve read most of Bendis’s Avengers, and liked some of it, but this thought just wouldn’t go away. “How many villains did Bendis invent for the Avengers to fight?”

The answer is one. In The Collective, the third collection I believe, he introduced Michael Pointer, a man who was possessed by mutant powers and was also maybe Xorn? Other than that, everything else Bendis introduced is a new, or mediocre, spin on an old idea. Hawkeye becomes Ronin, skrulls shapeshift into heroes, and a Spider-Man villain causes problems. Luke Cage and Jessica Jones having a daughter should maybe count as being a new idea, which raises the total to two.

That’s a one new idea every fifty issues average.

The biggest takeaway from Darwyn Cooke’s interview the other day is about ideas and originality. His point about changing characters to pander to the audience is a good one, and sparked some interesting (and asinine) discussion in the comments. It’s also an argument I keep coming back to when looking at cape comics and trying to decide what’s worth buying. I think that legacies, and the kind of worshipful attention to continuity that legacies imply, is both interesting and odious.

Okay. For whatever reason, there are stories that matter more than other stories in the Big Two. They advance the stories of characters people are about, etc etc. You already know this, I’ve already called it dumb, and veered dangerously close into whiny “Why don’t people like what I like” territory at the same time. But it is what it is, and that is what sells. When you get a chance to play in the side of the Shared Universe playground, when you get to the point where you’re Geoff Johns or Brian Bendis or Jonathan Hickman or whoever, you want to 1) have your stories matter and 2) play with all the toys.

That’s the fun of shared universes. You get to contribute to this amazing tapestry that existed decades before you were born. You can reference all of your favorite stories and hopefully create new favorites for others. If you’re open to it, you can even create some new concepts or spin an old character off into a legacy character, thereby staking out your own claim on the tapestry.

If you’re coming into comics now, you’re coming into an industry with a history. Fans expect to see Dr. Doom in Fantastic Four, and more than that, they expect to see your take on Dr. Doom. He haunts every run on the book in a way that Paste Pot Pete doesn’t. This is true of the Joker and Batman, Lex Luthor and Superman, and Hypno Hustler and Spider-Man. There’s a reason that Grant Morrison threw Magneto into New X-Men the way he did. You have to use these characters because that’s who these heroes fight. This is established behavior.

The Avengers fight Avengers villains. Bendis’s run seems to show that this is how it works, isn’t it? Even the story about the new villain ended up being about Magneto in the end. But the breakout, Sentry origin, Civil War, Secret Invasion… they didn’t actually introduce much, did they? Skrulls invade, heroes beef, and the latest verse sounds a whole lot like the verse that came before it, doesn’t it?

I think that, past a certain point, telling new stories with old characters is going to end up being diminishing returns. If the Avengers only fight Avengers villains, where’s the new blood going to come from? Who are the next Avengers villains going to fight? Is there a good reason for the Fantastic Four to fight Dr. Doom once every couple of years beyond “Well, that’s how it is?”

I think legacy characters often have the same result. You trade a lot in favor of a little. Two simple, and fantastic, examples: Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen were two stand-out characters from Gotham Central, which was probably the best bat-related book on the stands at the time. Montoya self-destructed, Allen died, and the series ended. Later, Renee becomes the new Question and Crispus becomes the new, goateed Spectre.

We traded four characters for two, and I don’t think that was a fair trade at all. Montoya and Allen both had very interesting roles to play, and their new superheroic identities often don’t seem to have much to do with that. Allen was an upright and moral man, and his role as part of the Spectre is apparently to go “Hey hold on now do we have to turn this guy into an elephant and sell his tusks on the black market? That’s ironic, yes, but it’s also cruel. Also I miss my family.” Montoya had turned boozing into an art, and while her climb back to sobriety was a pretty good read, none of it actually necessitated her being The Question to get it done.

Would Montoya becoming a PI appreciably change any of her stories? I don’t think they would. The Question is pretty low-tech as a concept, so all you really need is a hat and a trenchcoat. Why not keep both? Why use Renee to revive The Question trademark? Why use The Question to prop up Renee?

I’ve seen people argue that it’s better to have these characters in stories than not, so better that they change form than languish in obscurity, but I don’t buy that line of reasoning at all. I think that the value we get from having Montoya or Allen showing up once or twice a year these days isn’t worth the loss of the four characters that make them up. If characters aren’t appearing, then no one has stories to tell with them. Write stories with them or don’t write stories with them, rather than playing Dr. Frankenstein.

100 or so issues, one brand new villain. Four characters reduced to two, and the two that remain are decades old. Do you see how ridiculous that looks? That’s what happens when you have this kind of reverence for your shared universe. It’s stifling, isn’t it? If you don’t introduce new concepts and keep bowing down to the altar of old folks’ comics, all you’re going to make is old folks’ comics. It’s like if every third James Bond movie featured him fighting Jaws, or if Spike Lee kept doing movies about Radio Raheem.

A good story trumps everything, obviously, but the more I think about legacy characters, the more I feel like it’s time to jettison that entire idea. No New Legacies. We’re stuck with the ones we have, obviously, but why did Jaime Reyes have to be a Blue Beetle? Was Jason Rusch as Firestorm a choice that was worth it in the end? What if he were a different, all-new character instead? Why wasn’t he an all-new character? Why did he have to be an old character in new clothes? I know that if I never see Black (Established Hero) again, it’ll be too soon. I understand why it happens, both from a charitable view (Someone wants to add to the tapestry and had a good idea how to do it) and a cynical view (they want to trick colored folks into reading their comics by ticking a box on the Diversity Checklist), but I would absolutely rather see someone all-new, maybe with connections to the old character, under a brand new name, rather than a replacement.

Should you have to make thin connections to established heroes to make your character a minor success? I feel like if the Big Two can’t support new concepts, then the Big Two are broken. Is that unfair?

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Darwyn Cooke on Cape Comix

August 31st, 2010 Posted by david brothers

I’m still working out my thoughts on this (off the cuff, minute long, at a convention) interview, but I think he makes some interesting points, the sort of things I’d like to see discussed in a long interview.

A few points:
-I think the comment about 45 year old dudes is pretty apt. The realism that comics companies are producing in pursuit of that audience, and I didn’t put realism in scare quotes but I probably should have, is pretty foul. Superhero books don’t do well when you add realism into the mix unless you have the deftest of touches. Doing Politically Pointed Comics with superheroes tends to be loud, dumb, and garish, if not outright disrespectful. Stories about lynchings and gay bashing and whatever else tend to look absolutely ridiculous once some douchebag in tights shows up to save the day. Suspension of disbelief snaps when you introduce a certain level of injustice into the mix. Bank robberies? Sure, we can live with that. Dragging somebody behind a truck until his eyeballs pop out of his skull? I can’t wait to see what JMS is going to do with that in a later issue of Superman!

-Related: if you’re gonna do a superhero comic about the Holocaust… don’t. If you do it anyway… that comic better be better than the Second Coming.

-I think it’s easy to expand Cooke’s comments into being “All comics should be for kids!” That’s not what he’s saying, though, is it? There’s a difference between “for kids” and “appropriate for kids.” There’s nothing in, say, Naoki Urasawa’s Pluto or like, Jeff Parker’s Atlas that makes it for kids, but I’d argue that those books are appropriate for kids. I think that’s what Cooke is talking about–toning down the gross stuff that no one likes anyway except as a sign of superhero decadence and getting back to telling straight up stories. Agree/disagree?

-I think there’s a place for sex and violence in cape comix. Zodiac was a great read and it was super sleazy. I thought that story in Amazing Spider-Man where the Lizard ate a kid was great. But, isn’t that a little creepy? Maybe Spider-Man is a bad example, since he was a hit with college kids and all, but something like Superman or Batman, something that has a tremendous number of children who count themselves as fans… should the main stuff be the kid appropriate books? The ones that are just a little edgy, just adult enough to be interesting, but not so adult that they get all the roving rape gangs and severed heads? Should the side books, the miniseries and all, be the grown up stuff?

More thoughts later, maybe. I honestly have a lot of contradictory feelings about where comics should go (more war comics! more crime comics! stop making new versions of old characters! more black characters! stop making crap black characters!) and I’m sure some of what I think doesn’t even make sense.

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Fourcast! 40: The Sinner with the Getaway Face

April 12th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

-Two books!
-Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’s Criminal: The Sinners.
-Darwyn Cooke’s The Man With the Getaway Face.
(-The Sinners hits comic shops in trade form this week, make sure you pick it up. Phillips killed on art.)
-We talk about the difference between Parker and other crime heroes.
-We talk about the sociopolitical aspects of crime fiction, vis a vis feminism and racism, filtered through the lens of Parker’s ’50s-era setting and the city without pity of Criminal.
-In other words, we discuss how to deal with overt or covert sexism or racism in crime comics.
-In other other words, is it better to be treated equally and shot by Parker, or treated unequally and condescended to by Tracy Lawless?
-Also, how much noir drama is too much? Just ask Daredevil how running Gitmo: New York City is going.
-We’re gonna spoil one or both of the books for you, but c’mon. The Man With the Getaway Face is based on a forty-year old story and you should already be reading Criminal. No excuses.
-6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental for the theme music.
-You’ll never catch us alive, copper!

Subscribe to the Fourcast! via:
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Eisner Nominations are out!

April 8th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

A lot of quality books got nods this year. Naoki Urasawa got five nominations, and Darwyn Cooke, Ed Brubaker, and Mark Waid got three a-piece. I’m very pleased to see more and more manga represented in non-manga categories, because ghettoizing it is dumb. It’s just comics, baby. If you don’t know Urasawa, click here and get to scrolling. I’ve got something cooking on Pluto 8, but that’s a few days away at the earliest. For Darwyn Cooke’s Parker: The Hunter, click here.

There’s a lot of cool stuff in here, including several books I have not read, but will be reading asap. I also want to point out the Eisner nomination for Laura Hudson’s Comics Alliance, a site I freelance for, making me 1/15th Eisner nominated! Congrats, Laura. You deserved the nom, and you definitely deserve the Eisner.

It’s so nice that nothing like Justice League of America #11, the Brad Meltzer/Rags Morales story that got an Eisner a few years back got nominated. You know the story, it had Arsenal and Vixen trapped in a building that was underwater, but they were too dumb to realize they were upside down? Yeah, that was kind of a lame win for DC. This year, though, there’s nothing like tha

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)

  • Brave & the Bold #28: “Blackhawk and the Flash: Firing Line,” by J. Michael Straczynski and Jesus Saiz (DC)


Click here to check out the official list of Eisners, or just hit the jump, where I got my copy/paste on.
Read the rest of this entry �

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Wondercon Wrap-up!

April 6th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

If you asked me to sum up my Wondercon experience in a couple of short, witty phrases, I’d just tell you that I ate six pieces of pizza over the course of two days and that I spent more on karaoke than I did on anything even remotely comic-related.

That’s not the full experience, though. It was an interesting con for me, due in no small part to the ongoing evolution in the way I approach comics, and being a fan of comics. I got no signatures, no sketches, no freebies. I paid for three books and got one for free. I spent maybe twenty-five whole dollars at the con, a drastic decrease from the usual foolishness I get down to. I’ll get to that, though.

I left work a couple hours early on Friday to hit the con and get my pass. It was painless, with less than two people in line ahead of me. Other than my pass saying “4thletter!/Popcultureshock.com” for some reason, it was easy like Sunday morning.

I figured I’d walk the length of the hall from wall to wall, but the first thing I did at the con was find Matt Maxwell, Jeff Lester, and Heidi MacDonald chit-chatting in Artist’s Alley/Small Press. I killed some time with them for a while, talking about the con and comics, and that more or less set the tone for the con.

I spent a lot of time talking to people about comics and only attended a few panels. I stopped in on the DC Nation panel because a few friends (Esther, JK Parkin, Graeme McMillan, Carla Hoffman, Laura Hudson, a couple others) were there. It was, in a word, abysmal. They completely flubbed looking like they had any idea what they were doing with digital comics, there was a lot of “Wait and see,” there were a few “Wait until San Diego” answers… it was boring. I liked when someone asked about plans for Nightwing and got a succinct “Yeah, he’s Batman” in response, and I love that Dark Knight: Boy Wonder got announced, but it was a snoozer. I had a similar experience at the Marvel panel I accidentally attended the next day, again because friends were in effect and I had an opening in my schedule. I spent most of it poring over Darwyn Cooke’s The Man With the Getaway Face.

I attended a couple panels that were cool. The Greg Rucka spotlight moderated by Laura was a trip and well worth the price of admission. It was in a huge room, for some reason. The Boom! Studios panel was also pretty good, and Ian Brill seemed genuinely excited to be writing Darkwing Duck.

There was a Disney Comics superfan in the audience, too, who kept interrupting to ask about minutiae. At the end of the panel, I went up to say hi to Ian, and as I turned to leave, the superfan was right behind me. He was mumbling something about how we should print the Disney newspaper strips in black and white and not colorize them and something something Carl Barks. I tried to tell him I wasn’t part of Boom!, that that was the other black guy in the room, but he just said, “Yes, yes, but I think that…” and kept going. I shrugged and walked away while he was talking. I’m not getting trapped in an infinite conversation ever again, and that definitely had the makings of one.

(You ever had one of those? When someone keeps going and going and you can’t find a polite way to excuse yourself because they’re so focused that all they want to do is talk about whatever? Yeah. Infinite conversations. They’re gonna be the death of somebody one day.)

I attended the Black Cartoonists as Social Commentators panel, too. It was good, but the moderator was a little too overbearing. It was clear he had a very clear and academic formula he wanted to follow, but Keith Knight and Darrin Bell are hilarious, personable, and have great anecdotes. I would’ve much preferred to see them let loose with a conversation about themselves and their work. The glimpses we got were great, though, and if you aren’t reading either, get familiar. Bell’s story about how he was getting hate mail after hate mail before Hurricane Katrina and zilch after… that was a good one. It was a good panel.

I spent most of my time walking around with friends like Lauren Davis and Ana, digging in the various half off book booths and looking for stuff to buy. I didn’t buy much, as I said before, in part because I know exactly how much stuff is sitting on my coffee table, waiting to be read. I stuck to books I knew I’d love and get to relatively soon. This means I missed out on deep discounted hardcovers, but that’s okay. I think.
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